Under the guidance of new course superintendent David Simeon, who draws on nearly a quarter century of experience and a degree in turf management, the links at Greens of Howard Lake underwent a thorough makeover and renewal in 2011. Course architect Ed Lahr made myriad improvements, such as regrading the fairway on hole 2 and enhancing it with a pond. In addition to rejuvenating the course’s turf and waging a war on weeds, the overhaul led to a renovated clubhouse where players can rent premium clubs for playing the links or carrying knapsacks over their shoulders on contemplative walks through the course. After the last swing is swung, they can also fuel up with pizza and beer onsite or stop at the pro shop to pick up new gear.
Course at a Glance: * 9-hole, par 36 course * Length of 3,313 yards * Course rating of 35.4 * Slope rating of 115
While other athletic clubs hibernate, Majestic Oaks welcomes Old Man Winter's frigid embrace with snow-savvy cheer. Played using golf clubs and a fuzzy tennis ball, snow golf provides nine holes of family-spanning fun and takes less than an hour to complete. Traversing the course, most of whose holes are under 100 yards, provides a reason to enjoy a brisk winter afternoon with friends while getting some light exercise. Hot chocolate and coffee (a value of $1.50 each) can keep your foursome of snow-golfers warm or can be used to punish snowmen who overindulge in mulligans.
A shimmering sheet of bluegrass spreads underfoot on each of the holes at Viking Meadows Golf Club. Eighteen of these manicured fairways make up the club's championship-length course, The Meadows, a 6,428-yard undertaking that pits players against water hazards on six holes, tricky dogleg turns, and the constant threat of mole people bursting from the ground.
The Meadows Course at a Glance:
Designed by course architect Kevin Norby, The Refuge Golf Club cleaves through 350 acres of woods and wetlands to frame an 18-hole, par 72 course. Native grasses, wooden cart bridges, and immaculate bluegrass fairways characterize this northern-style course, which challenges golfers with tight tree lines and abundant sunbathing opportunities for losing shirts in sand traps. If golfers haven't spotted much wildlife throughout the course, they might find a gallery of hawks, deer, and feral caddies watching at the 17th, the course's second-most-difficult hole. Clubbers must blast tee shots over a forced carry before safely landing on an open fairway that leads to a green flanked by bunkers on both sides. Players can warm up for rounds at the 20-stall driving range and contoured putting green, and PGA professionals help golfers hone their game during private lessons. Meanwhile, a 13,000-square-foot clubhouse built of rock and cedar beckons for post-round revelry in the facility's restaurant, bar, and pro shop.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 6,534 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 71.9 from the back tees * Course slope of 139 from the back tees * Five sets of tees per hole
With 27 challenging kentucky-bluegrass fairways in front of lush bentgrass greens, The Ponds challenges golfers to play a trio of nine-hole courses or combine two of them for three unique 18-hole rounds. Water hazards make for an especially difficult approach to the green on the Red Course's signature first hole, whereas the White Course's ninth hole ends with a green flanked by sand traps. Wetlands and sloped greens make up the Blue Course, which players can travel in new electric-power carts.
Before hitting the fairways, golfers can warm up at the driving range, chipping green, putting green, or pleading-with-your-clubs green. After the round, replace any golf balls that got away at the pro shop, which stocks brands such as Nike and Titleist.
Red Course at a Glance: * 9-hole, par 36 course * Length of 3,380 yards * Four tee options
Blue Course at a Glance: * 9-hole, par 36 course * Length of 3,453 yards * Four tee options
White Course at a Glance: * 9-hole, par 36 course * Length of 3,401 yards * Four tee options